& COOKING ARTICLE
the goat cheese genius
by Rosa Jackson
jackson grew up in a Canadian prairie city known for
its giant mall. When her family moved to Paris for
two years while she was growing up, she discovered
patisseries and never looked back. Her early efforts
at making croissants and eclairs were total flops
but that didn't stop her. At 26 she left her job as
a food writer at a daily Canadian newspaper and moved
to Paris. After ten years in Paris, where she wrote
about restaurants for a number of guidebooks and magazines
and founded the company Edible Paris, she now spends
most of her time in Nice where she teaches Provençal
cooking in her home. She spends a few days every month
in Paris keeping up with restaurants, conducting food
tours, and sampling the finest patisseries and chocolates.
With a charming French husband and food-loving young
son, she considers her life just about perfect.
our house the word "Georges" is pronounced
with the same reverence that others might reserve for
gives me reason to get up in the morning. On Saturdays,
he gives me reason to get up especially early, by 7:00am
first heard of Georges about a year ago, around the
same time that I first met Franck Cerutti, chef at the
Louis XV in Monaco. After introducing me to his favorite
producers, Franck invited me to peek into the back of
his small refrigerated van, where a couple of dozen
plastic trays were stacked on top of each other.
have some extraordinary goat cheese," he said.
"Would you like some?"
taste and I was hooked. I had never tasted a goat cheese
so fresh and pure, with not the slightest hint of goatiness.
It didn't stick to the palate but caressed the tongue.
It made me think of spring flowers and cool mountain
air. I knew that somehow, whatever it took, I had to
secure a regular supply.
don't think I can eat any other cheese," I said
to Franck. "How can I get my hands on this?"
He laughed. "I'll have to introduce you to Georges."
couple of Saturdays later a meeting was arranged at
7:30am in a café near the market. At first, Georges
was a little skeptical. Who was this Canadian who thought
she was entitled to his cheese? I fell on my knees (well,
almost). I confessed that all other cheeses had lost
their appeal. And Georges told me his story.
came to the south of France at age sixteen from Portugal
to work on a goat cheese farm for the summer. While
he was there, the farmer had a mishap with one of his
beehives. He was stung so many times that he nearly
died, and stayed in the hospital for three weeks. Young
Georges had to take over. Upon his return, the farmer
thanked him by giving him two goats. Georges knew he
had found his vocation.
that time, in the 1970s, France was reluctant to accept
more Portuguese immigrants. But the bureaucrats at the
préfecture found they couldn't bring themselves
to say no to this young foreigner who loved goats, and
eventually Georges married a Frenchwoman.
has supplied many of the top restaurants on the Côte
d'Azur but now sells only to Franck and to a passionate
fromager at the Forville market in Cannes. And to me.
After that meeting in the café, we agreed that
each week he would put aside five little round cheeses
for me. Some weeks they are fresh and almost fluffy
in texture, some weeks they are developing blue spots
on the rind and starting to turn creamy inside. His
cheeses become creamy just under the rind, collapsing
into a runny mass when they are really ripe.
prefers them fresh, but Franck likes them shrunken with
a blue crust, which he believes concentrates the essence
of the cheese. It amazes Georges that anyone wants to
eat them that way, let alone sell them in a three-Michelin-star
restaurant. Fresh, runny or blue, what I love most about
this cheese is that it feels like one of the healthiest
things I could put into my body. That's not something
I think very often about cheese.
I told Georges I like to eat the fresher cheeses for
breakfast with chestnut honey and figs, he looked so
horrified that I thought my supply might be cut off.
Georges is a cheese purist, which might explain why
his cheese tastes so unadulterated. Between late November
and March he stops producing cheese entirely to allow
the goats to follow their natural cycle. He has never
been able to explain to me what makes his cheeses so
special, but I plan to find out by visiting his farm
one of these days.
serve Georges' cheese as often as I can in my cooking
classes, always with the hope that students will share
my cheese epiphany. I haven't been disappointed yet.
Rosa Jackson - www.petitsfarcis.com
11 August 2007
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